“One of the main tasks of adolescence is to achieve an identity—not necessarily a knowledge of who we are, but a clarification of the range of what we might become, a set of self-references by which we can make sense of our responses, and justify our decisions and goals.”
― Terri Apter, Altered Loves
I have worked extensively with adolescents. I was an "At Risk" guidance counselor at a Title VIII middle school. It was my job to help the students who had the most challenging presentations, and usually the most challenging lives. I have experience treating adolescents dealing with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, oppositional defiance, self-harming behaviors, eating disorders and ADHD.
I love working with adolescents. I think they are remarkable in their ability to adapt and change and to learn to see things from the perspective of other people. The problem is that at this developmental stage, their task is to separate themselves from their caregivers. The odds that they are going to listen to their parents is not high.
Parenting an unhappy, angry, anxious, depressed or oppositionally defiant adolescent can challenge even the most patient parent.
The thing is, they don't really like this period either. They are doing the very best they can, believe it or not. They are just limited in their ability to cope, to understand, and to communicate because they are kids. We often forget all of this, usually because they don't look like kids and often they don't sound like kids anymore, but they are kids.
Let's face it, adolescence is hard. Everything is felt so much more acutely, we all feel so awkward and as though life is just one big secret that we have all been left out of. At this age, we feel that our parents don't know anything and are just bent on our destruction and embarrassment. We are desperately trying to figure it all out, and there is so much to figure out. We are lost, but we don't dare tell anyone. It can be a frightening time for us and for the people who love us.
What we will work on together is recreating the kind of relationship between you and your child which will bring peace back to your home. Your child will learn better coping strategies and develop a healthier way to express their inner worlds.